I know I'm not an NBA GM. There's a good reason for that. I could never draft on potential alone. I couldn't draft a high school player, hope he develops and then pray that I could re-sign him. Sure drafting Jermaine O'Neal and Tracy McGrady have thrived, too bad the Blazers and Raptor never saw the rewards.
My list this week is the top-10 players the I'D draft based on how they can help my team in the near future. I'm not taking into consideration who has what pick, what the needs are and what kind of situation a team has. This is plainly based on who has the most talent now and who can help over the next few years.
- Drew Gooden—Kansas This guy is great. The best player in college last season. A tall, athletic scorer, who can also play in the post. A little thin, but my odds on favorite for the ROY.
- Jay Williams—Duke I have a lot of reservations on this guy, but the upside is tremendous. He's mature, talented and smart. He's also undersized, a question in the clutch and from Duke. Duke players have not exactly torn up the league. In the end I'd rather gamble on a 20-something year-old with a college degree than a teenager with upside.
- Curtis Borchardt—Stanford I'm not sure Borchardt will ever be a "star", but my money is on him playing a decade or more. He's a big, strong, smart, seven-footer who can stroke from the outside.
- Yao Ming—China Ming scares me, for two reasons. First he's full of question marks. Can he bang? Can he stay in the U.S. a long time? Can he adjust? Is he another Sean Bradley? The second thing that scares me is that he could just be the next evolution in the game. If he develops I'd hate to have been the GM who passed on him. The worst case scenario is that he is Sean Bradley. Remember Bradley has been a serviceable pro since the early 90's.
- Caron Butler—UConn Butler has a lot of knocks on him, but in the end he has one thing going for him: UConn. Big wing players from UConn are always a good thing, like PG's from Arizona. Donyell Marshall, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, etc… I think Butler is just behind Allen on that list. He could have used one more year in school, but he can play right away off the bench.
- Dajuan Wagner—Memphis Could end up being the biggest star in this draft. His lack of position is a concern, but it was also a concern of Allen Iverson. At 6-2 he isn't a PG and he isn't a 2G either. He is just a scorer. If he was a year or two older he's likely be #1.
- Chris Wilcox—Maryland The bas news is that he played fourth fiddle for the Terps and actually had to win the PF job in the preseason. The good news is he is 6-10, can run and is still young. I'd like to have seen him have a complete season, but the NCAA tourney showed me a lot. Not a sure thing, but the talent is there.
- Nikoloz Tskitishvilli—Italy Described by many as the next Pao Gasol. I haven't seen him play, but he's generating a tremendous amount of buzz. He's only 19, is a 6-11 SF and apparently will still go to the glass. European players scare me a bit, but this guy sounds like he could be one to take.
- Mike Dunleavy—Duke Where does this guy play? He's too thin for the post, too slow for the wing. A gifted shooter, great pedigree, but I just don't think he can excel without putting on a lot of muscle. In the end his level head, coach father and outside shot make him a better pick than Jared Jefferies, but not by much.
- Frank Williams—Illinois Had a poor junior season, but this guy could be a steal. Coming into this past season I thought he was even with Jay Williams. He's got some size, strength and can score. He could become a very good one, quickly.
Other players I think will be very good: Marvin Ely, Fresno; Chris Marcus, W. Kentucky; Juan Dixon, Maryland.
The Thrill's Top Five reasons Channing Frye will leave after '03.
5. He's a precious commodity for NBA teams--A talented, big man that can shoot from mid-range, block shots, rebound and play solid defense. The best part about Frye is his "upside", which seems to be the single most important attribute a player can possess according to most NBA general managers.
4. He gets better every game. In his five games in Australia, Frye has averaged 21.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and has shot over 61% from the field. Most college basketball followers recognized that he would breakout as a sophomore after his stellar freshman year but this is amazing. Sure, Australia isn't exactly full of good big men but his 32-point, 11-rebound performance on Thursday was impressive regardless of the competition.
3. He can still add about 30 more pounds of muscle on his 6-11 frame. He's not a string bean even now at 6-11, 225, but imagine Channing running the floor the way he does at 255 or 260. With a body like that to go along with the athleticism and shooting touch, Frye could be the potential overall No. 1 pick in next year's draft.
2. Arizona's team has a great chance to get to and win this year's Final Four in New Orleans. If that's the case, expect Channing to join his buddies Jason Gardner, Luke Walton and Rick Anderson on the list of departures from the Wildcat roster. There's almost no way to expect him to stay for his junior year if he plays as well as he has been lately and simultaneously gets the exposure that a team ranked No. 1 all year receives.
1. Because why do you think Arizona so desperately wants to sign either Brian Butch or David Padgett from this year's recruiting class? Lute Olson and his staff are more than smart enough to see the possibility of Channing having an enormous sophomore year and bolting to the NBA, thus leaving a huge void at the center spot for the Cats. Whether or not Frye actually does leave after this season is still debatable, but at this point, it sure seems likely.